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Do You Know Your Car Seats?

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Child seat protections vary depending on the different types of child seats out there. It is important that your child safety seat meets these requirements:

  • It must meet the government standards of quality and safety
  • Your child seat directions must be read carefully, as well as your car's owner's manual that talks about child restraints
  • The seat must properly be installed to your car
  • The seat must fit your child

Here is a list of different types of child seats;

                The Infant-Only Seat

  • What is it? These are rear-facing child safety seats that are designed only for infants. They are small and include a carrying handle. Many are composed of two parts: the base, which can be installed and left in the car, and the seat itself that clicks into the base.
  • Who is it for? These seats are recommended for infants that should ride in a rear-facing seat until they weigh at least 20 pounds and are at least 1 year old. Infants that exceed the 20 pound limit but are less than a year old should still ride in a rear-facing seat, but in one with a higher weight limit.
  • What does it do for the child? In an event of a crash, the seat supports the infant’s head, neck, and back, absorbing the force of forward momentum. Infants in a rear-facing seat should never be placed in the front seat, especially around airbags. These seats position the infant’s body less than a 45° angle, so that the infant’s head rests against the back of the seat rather than flopping forward. A greater angle puts pressure on the child’s neck and may obstruct the airway.

The Forward-Facing Seat

  • What is it? These seats, like rear-facing seats, face the child forward with a more upright position than infant-only seats. They include a harness that snaps over the child’s chest and hips.
  • Who is it for? These seats are meant for children between 1-4 years old who weigh at least 20 pounds. If your child exceeds the weight or height limits, in other words, the child’s head comes within one inch of the top of the seat, you can change the seat. You can continue using the rear-facing seat for as long as it’s safe.
  • What does it do for the child? It includes a harness that fits over the strongest parts of the child’s body-the chest and hips. Toddles do not need as much neck and head support as infants do, however, their bodies are still not yet fully developed. The harness protects the child from jolting forward in an event of an accident.

The Booster Seat

  • What is it? The purpose of the booster seat is to raise the child’s position so that a seat belt would fit the child as if he/she was an adult. There are booster seats that include a back or ones that are “backless” and the child would be leaning on the actual car seat.
  • Who is it for? Children who have outgrown the forward-facing safety seats. A child is ready for a booster seat if he or she exceeds the height or weight limit, if his or her shoulders are above the top harness slots, or if his or her head extends more than two or so inches past the top of the seat.
  • What does it do for the child? On a child, regular seat belts typically cut across the abdomen and neck, rather than the upper thighs or hips and the chest. In the middle of our chest is our sternum, a hard piece of bone that connects our rib cages and protects our heart. In an event of a crash, the seat belt could easily choke the child if it is strapped across the neck.

For more information on child safety, request a free copy of Safe & Secure: A Guide to Keeping Your Child Safe!


Joseph M. Ghabour
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Auto, Bus, Pedestrian, Motorcycle accident, medical malpractice and worker's compensation attorney.
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